Painful Truth: Canada is already way behind when it comes to the green economy

Too little, too late for the Canadian petro state

I am, on a good day, confident that humanity is going to survive the self-induced disaster that is human-caused climate change.

I am not so confident that the transition won’t reveal some ugly facts about Canada along the way.

For instance, would you believe me if I told you that the transition to fully-electric buses was already well underway, that they were a reliable and proven technology that moved hundreds of millions of people a year?

No?

Well, they’re not moving many people around here. TransLink is, bless their hearts, just now trying out a tiny pilot project with four, count, ’em, four electric buses. They’re undergoing a year and a half trial. So maybe in early 2021, we might buy a few more. Maybe.

China has 421,000 electric buses on the road now.

Are those the best electric buses you could possibly have? Are they the most reliable, the fastest charging, the cleanest when it comes to battery production?

Probably not. But China’s going to learn a lot more about how to improve and upgrade and build better, cheaper, faster charging buses by having a massive fleet of them to practice with than we will with our piddly four buses.

The narrative around clean power and climate change for a long time has been that it doesn’t matter what wealthy nations like Germany, the U.S.A, Japan and Canada do, because China and India would just keep spewing greenhouse gases.

The implicit argument in this critique, often, was why bother to do anything in the west?

But the truth is, we’re going to be lapped.

The future is about clean energy. It’s about wind and solar, about battery storage (all of which have gotten dramatically cheaper in the last few years and all of which will keep getting cheaper for years to come) and about which countries can manage the transition the most efficiently.

Canada will probably not be one of those countries managing the transition well.

We should be in a good place! We have abundant resources of clean power already – there’s a reason Ontario, B.C. and Quebec all call their power companies “Hydro.”

And where we don’t have the ability to make hydro power, we have prairie and coastal wind, we have sunlight. We even have our own deposits of uranium and the Canadian Shield as a vast, geologically stable platform to build nuclear power plants on, if we choose to go in that direction.

But we also have oil. Canada is, in many ways, a petro state, just like Saudia Arabia and Venezuela and Russia. Considerably more democratic and less corrupt than those countries, yes. But the outsized influence of oil on our politics and our economy has major effects.

That’s why we are simultaneously seeing Ottawa hand out subsidies to buy new all-electric or hybrid cars, while the same federal government pushes through plans for a major oil pipeline expansion.

At least Alberta’s new United Conservative government is consistent. They’re fighting the carbon tax, doubling down on oil, and declaring permanent hostility to anyone suggesting that maybe cleaning up thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells is a bigger priority than selling another million barrels of crude.

Where will Canada be, in 20 years?

We’ll have pinned part of our hopes on a green future. We will likely have slashed the number of cars on our roads using internal combustion engines. We might have cut down on fossil fuel power plants.

But we’ll be climbing out from under a mountain of bad decisions, including investing more and more political capital and actual money in oil infrastructure. We’ll be tallying up the cost of cleaning up from decades of oil and gas drilling.

We’ll be wishing we’d picked a side, instead of straddling the fence.

Just Posted

Langley’s Wyatt twins make Pan Am team

Wyatts back home after completing freshman year at University of Memphis

VIDEO: Beer lovers tip a few for Langley Rotary Clubs

17th Annual Tip ‘n Taste at Cascades Casino serves up craft suds for local charities

Former Langley school moved to new site for condo project

The old Murrayville Elementary’s core was shifted on its site

VIDEO: Langley couple’s home goes from worst to first

Penny and Leif Sogaard get home makeover on HGTV reality show

Cutting a path to a brighter future in Langley

Syrian refugee takes ownership of Ol’ Crow Barbershop in McBurney Plaza

VIDEO: First Nations, developer call for return and protection of sacred B.C. burial site

Dozens of First Nations leaders gather on grassy plateau to call on action by provincial government

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody 6 months after release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

Alleged driver of semi-truck in fatal Burnaby hit-and-run identified

No charges have been laid and police say the driver is cooperating with the investigation

Bears have killed 17 people in B.C. since 1986

Number of bear complaints and bears killed rose sharply during same period

VIDEO: Plane makes forced landing on highway in Surrey

Police say no one was injured and no damage to aircraft or vehicles

Edmonton police seek owners of items possibly stolen in Lower Mainland

Three people are facing a total of 130 charges after being arrested in Edmonton on Jan. 25

Most Read